The weather guy said the tropical storm will probably be a hurricane before it made landfall at midnight. It was only seven, so I walked a few doors down to the expat bar. As I went up the stairs, my pace slowed with guilt, but I managed to raise my head with a false sense of pride as I placed one sober foot before the next toward the barstool. Dave was already there. It had been hard to avoid him lately. I thought about ignoring him, but I could see him sliding around on his stool trying to think of a way to break the ice.
He settled for, “Hows it going Cory?”
“All right,” I said, searching for a way to crawl back inside myself, but with a jerk reaction I found myself blurting out his name, “Dave!”
Dave looked at me with a grin and asked, “Did you have to go through the alphabet?”
“No” I responded defensivly. “I just all of a sudden remembered I told you I’d let you know if I remembered your name the next time I saw you, and I just realized I hadn't said your name when you said hello, so I wanted to let you know I remembered it, in case you thought I hadn’t, I did, I just forgot to say it, but I remembered.”
Dave said, “Ok”.
"Why did he torment me so?" I asked myself as I peeled the label off my beer bottle and looked forward to the hurricane.
What I didn't tell Dave was how I managed to remember his name. I used this associative trick where you associate a name with someone you could never forget. There was this cop back in my hometown in Illinois named Dave. Dave and my Dad were rival cops. Finally, Dave got busted screwing one of his teenaged daughters best friends in the back of his cop car, that was it for Dave.
This Dave was from Ohio, and he loved to tell over and over the story about his motorcycle trip he took from Ohio to Florida when he hit the open road and left his old computer processing job in the dust. Upward and onward in search of freedom. Somehow Dave ended up hiding out here in Playa del Carme, Mexico, sitting across the bar from me, giving me a ton of things to think about without even trying. Dave lived in the bar's hotel, or maybe it was the hotel's bar...?
But the thing is, I don't even like Dave. Dave annoys me, he annoys all the expats, he even annoys the Mexican bartender who has no idea what he’s saying. Honestly, he has that look. And Dave proudly voted for Trump and loves to let us know it until the bartender pulls out a wooden paddle and threatens, "No Politics in my bar!" in broken English as she wacks her hand. Dave usually gets a big grin. I guess he's alright, he smokes pot at least, and he actually lent me a few buds a couple weeks ago, and I feel like I could in the least remember his name.
I looked up from my pile of beer wrappers as Dave once again began to show off how he can guess the name of the next song that comes on the radio within the first two or three notes. I kind of admire him for this novelty skill few else have. I’ve always been drawn to people who have worthless talents.
My best friend growing up used to memorize the most mundane shit, and spew it out verbatim, such as this ancient Sally Struthers commercial for example, “Choose from any one of these programs, High School, TV/VCR Repair, Computer Programming, Electrician, Animal Care Specialist, Auto Mechanics, PC Repair, Bookkeeping, Legal Assistant, Medical Office Assistant, Hotel/Restaurant Management, Learning the Personal Computer, Electronics, or get your Specialized Associate Degree in Business Management and Accounting. ICS gives you everything you need, so call right now!”
I managed to forget about Dave for a minute until he crumpled up a napkin into a ball and threw it down the bartender's blouse. Dave offered to help as she reached down into her cleavage with one hand, a shot of tequila splashing around in the other. Dave obviously didn't get the memo and she gulped down what was left of the shot and gave Dave the death stare. Dave giggled and asked her with a high pitch, "whaaaat?"
I looked in my pockets for more pesos but found nothing but lent. I considered the virtues of sobriety for a moment, then asked for the check, looked over at Dave, wondered about his goatee, handed the bartender my pesos and then nodded at Dave, “See ya later,” we both said simultaneously, as I questioned myself whether I am buzzed enough for a hurricane, then I walked down the stairs to the street below.
The cargo bikes were out in full gale selling quesadillas and tamales. I took a big whif as the charcoal smoke billowed up through the still palms, and wondered if I was the only one taking notice of the calm before the storm. I walked a few doors back down the block and up the stairs to my flat. I pulled a chair over to the window, opened the hurricane shutters, listened to the bird's sing, and rolled a joint as it slowly began to rain, and I thought about Dave.